Shanghai | Opening Night of Prada “Rong Zhai” Garden Villa
I’ve heard a thing or two about luxury brands revamping historic heritage sites of the cities they call home. An example is Fendi’s preservation of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, a restoration that later became the stage of the brand’s 90th-anniversary celebration and its Couture show last year.
Prada is obviously no stranger to this, as it has taken on various architectural projects in the past, including a restoration of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, where the first ever Prada boutique is located. I often refer to the Galleria as simply “the world’s oldest shopping mall” and “the best blend of art and shopping.” 👇
The projects mentioned above make sense since these cities and architectural monuments have special significance to the brands, and that’s why I was surprised to hear that Prada has recently restored a garden villa in Shanghai.
I was honored to be invited by VogueVIP to attend the opening night of the Prada “Rong Zhai” Garden Villa. My tour of the mansion was wonderful not only because the mansion is beautiful, but also because the Prada staff was friendly, informative and professional.
Rong Zhai - What is it?
“Rong Zhai” is translated to “Rong’s House,” so the tour I went on was literally a walk-through of someone’s old, but now revived, house. Except the former owner isn’t just a nobody. Rong Zongjing was a famous tycoon, nicknamed “The Flour King of China”, in late the 1980s to early 1990s. He was originally in Wuxi but really became a self-made man in Shanghai.
Much like a typical dream of the people working hard in Shanghai today, Rong bought the mansion located in the neighborhood of Jing’an. The villa was built around 1910 and was originally owned by a German man. This explains why the construction style of the place is very Western.
After Rong bought the place, he asked a celebrated designer, Chen Chunjiang to remodel it. Many Art Deco embellishments were added.
The Prada Touch
“Careful observation of curiosity about the world, society and culture are at the core of Prada’s creativity and modernity.” – Miuccia Prada & Patrizio Bertelli
Back to my point above, why would Prada want to be involved in a restoration project of a Chinese historical landmark? The only explanation I can think of is that it wants to show its commitment and interest in Chinese history and culture. And win over the Chinese customers, perhaps?
Rong Zhai is open to the public from now until mid-December. For people who are interested, head over to Prada’s Weibo to reserve your timed tickets.
Don’t miss the following rooms and details during your visit!
It’s very surprising to me that 100 years ago, there would be people that dedicate an entire room to relax, tend plants, and enjoy the state of zen. It’s like the modern day yoga room!
My favorite part of the room is the stained-glass windows with personal motifs to the owner. The left panel shows a pagoda on Lake Tai, that the Rong brothers built to commemorate their mother.
The right panel references the shoreline of the Suzhou River, where Rong built several flour and cotton mills, symbolizing his success.
If you’ve been to cathedrals in Europe, you’re not going to be too surprised by beautiful stained-glass. But the centerpiece at the Rong Zhai Ballroom is something else.
Forty-five square meters in total, the massive stained-glass skylight is a grand art piece. I can totally imagine large parties being thrown here.
💫Billiards Room & Smoking Room
Sumptuous gold detailing, ornate decoration, hand-carved wood paneling……these adjoining rooms are really the best way to “casually” show off your wealth and status to friends post dinner.
So many storage spaces, yet no one knows what the real purpose of the room is. Doesn’t that seem a bit fishy? Try to spot the safe concealed behind an iron door!
So many intricate details in this room: Ceiling medallion with floral motif, enamel tile with abstract floral design, and the Jewish yellow stars on the ground.
Prada SS17 Collection
This collection actually goes very well with the mansion, with the chinoiserie pieces, 1920s Deco-graphic print, extravagant sparkles, fluffing trims, and sporty details. Young, fresh, and elegant.
I’m loving the designs on the limited edition bags! Only sold at Rong Zhai.
Opening dates: Oct 17 - Dec 27, 2017
Time: 10 am - 5 pm (extended to 9 pm on Thurs, Fri, Sat)
Address: #186 N. Shanxi Rd, Jing'an, Shanghai
Ticket reservation is open on the Prada Weibo page
Dress: Balmain by H&M